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Everything You Need to Know About the 2022 UCF Volleyball Team

Knights begin their campaign for an unprecedented fifth straight AAC championship

McKenna Melville leads the Knights in her final season
Photo: Noah Goldberg

The UCF Knights Volleyball team is the most dominant team on campus right now. They begin their season on Friday, September 2nd, with an aim toward winning their fifth consecutive conference title.

They also have one of the greatest athletes ever to don the black and gold playing in her final season in Orlando.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Knights for 2022.


Last Season

27-7 (19-1 AAC), Won The American, Lost in NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

All they do is win.

UCF keeps topping itself in volleyball. Coming off a short but taxing Spring season (which got moved from the Fall due to COVID), the Knights picked up where they left off, losing only one match in the conference (to Houston) and sprinting to the league crown for the fourth straight time.

The Knights were rewarded with a trip to Los Angeles for the NCAAs (not Gainesville for once!), where they knocked off Pepperdine in the first round and had 14-seed UCLA on the ropes before the Bruins forced it to five and ended it.


This Season

Picked 1st unanimously in The American’s preseason coaches poll

UCF is again the overwhelming favorite in The American, and with a full offseason and the reigning conference Player of the Year back for one last ride, it’s hard to argue for anyone else.

Houston and Cincinnati have the best opportunities to catch the Knights, but make no mistake: This is UCF’s conference to lose in 2022.


Who’s in Charge

Todd Dagenais

UCF Volleyball head coach Todd Dagenais (Photo: Derek Warden)
UCF Volleyball head coach Todd Dagenais
Photo: Derek Warden

UCF’s winningest volleyball coach is back for his 15th season at the helm. Dagenais is coming off his fourth AAC Coach of the Year honor and has long prided himself on producing students who not only excel, but dominate both on and off the court, and the proof is in the pudding:

Todd Dagenais’ Head Coaching Record

Year Overall Conference Reg. Season Conf. Tournament Postseason Tournament
Year Overall Conference Reg. Season Conf. Tournament Postseason Tournament
2008 15-17 6-10 9th C-USA Lost Quarterfinals --
2009 12-18 3-13 11th C-USA DNQ --
2010 16-16 9-11 8th C-USA -- --
2011 20-11 12-8 4th C-USA -- --
2012 18-15 11-5 3rd C-USA Lost Final --
2013 21-10 12-6 3rd AAC -- --
2014 25-8 18-2 1st AAC -- NCAA First Round
2015 15-17 9-11 7th AAC -- --
2016 23-10 13-7 4th AAC -- --
2017 20-14 12-8 4th AAC -- NIVC Second Round
2018 27-4 18-0 1st AAC -- NCAA First Round
2019 25-8 14-2 1st AAC Won NCAA Second Round
2020* 16-2 8-0 1st AAC Won NCAA First Round
2021 27-7 19-1 1st AAC -- NCAA Second Round
Total 280-157 164-84 5 Reg. Season Titles 2 Tournament Titles 5 NCAA Appearances
C-USA held no conference tournament in 2010 and 2011. AAC held no conference tournament from 2013-2018, and again in 2021. NCAA bid went to the regular season champion. * 2020 season held in Spring 2021 due to COVID

While UCF has won four straight league titles, they also earned the highest cumulative GPA of any women’s team on campus with an astronomical 3.6.

Listen to Coach Dagenais preview his team on our podcast here:


What to Watch for

#MacWatch

McKenna Melville Volleyball
McKenna Melville
Photo Courtesy: UCF Athletics

McKenna Melville enters her fifth and final season at UCF with the program record for total career kills well within her sight. Currently, at 1,990 kills, she needs just 162 to surpass Renata Menchikova for #1 all-time at UCF. She’s also at 1,381 digs for her career, which is fourth all-time in that category despite not being a defensive specialist.

But this is the big one: Melville is 510 kills from 2,500, which would put her in the top ten all-time in NCAA Division I history regardless of era, which is all the more amazing considering the majority of the people above her played in the sideout-scoring era (pre-2001) when the only way you could score a point was if you won a rally while on serve. That gave great hitters more opportunities to amass ridiculous kill numbers in long matches.

For example, Menchikova, who played from 1995-1997, recorded her program record for total kills while averaging 5.85 kills per set. Melville, for her career, averages just 4.64 kills per set heading into 2022.

One for the Thumb

The Knights look to become the first UCF team since Rowing (2015-2019) to win five consecutive conference championships. They have dominated The American since 2018, winning 72 of 75 matches against AAC opponents going back to the end of the 2017 season.

Historically speaking, UCF Volleyball won five TAAC (now ASUN) championships in a row from 1993-1997 under Laura Smith. Track & Field also won six straight ASUN titles from 2000-2005, but that’s it. This is rarified air for this group should they get it done.

Mission: Sweet 16

Postseason success has been somewhat elusive for the Knights over this stretch, thanks to bad injury luck, especially in 2018 when Erin Olson was injured just prior to the NCAAs, and in 2020 when Amber Olson was out of action just prior to the NCAA First Round.

UCF has advanced to the second round twice in the last four years, but come up short each time — at Florida in 2019 and at UCLA last season, when the Knights took the nationally-seeded Bruins to five before falling at historic Pauley Pavilion in a match where McKenna Melville was held to .000 hitting for the first and only time in her illustrious career.

Four times UCF has made it to the second round only to see its dreams thwarted. Will this be the year they finally break through?

Who’s Next?

Melville and Olsen lead perhaps the greatest senior class in UCF history into the sunset this season. But as they bow out, who among a fresh crop of sophomores and freshmen will fill the giant shoes they leave behind as UCF enters the Big 12?


Players to Watch

The trio of returning Knights that were selected to the All-AAC First team last season, OH McKenna Melville, S Amber Olson, and MB Claudia Dillon, are back on the preseason all-conference team to start this season.

#20 McKenna Melville — Outside Hitter

McKenna Melville UCF Volleyball Photo: Noah Goldberg

She needs no introduction.

Melville was named the unanimous AAC’s Preseason Player of the Year, beginning a campaign to take the regular-season AAC Player of the Year honor for the third consecutive year.

In her fifth and final season as a Knight, she will attempt to raise her standing on the all-time UCF Volleyball kill and dig lists, but she is also within striking distance of the Top 10 in career aces and total blocks.

#3 Amber Olson — Setter

Amber Olson UCF Volleyball Photo: Noah Goldberg

The Chicago native returns alongside Melville for a fifth and final season.

She surpassed her sister, Erin, on the program’s all-time assist list last season and is 409 assists away from getting the most career assists in UCF Volleyball history since Hall of Famer Jenny Frank.

“It’s honestly because of the passers that I’m able to give these hitters the opportunity to put themselves in scoring positions,” Olson said. “But at the end of the day, it’s the hitters that are making the decision last-minute, like if I put them in a crappy situation they still have my back and try and make my set better, so without them, I wouldn’t even have close to the amount of assists that I have.”

#15 Claudia Dillon — Middle Blocker

After transferring in from Missouri, the Colorado native enters her second season with the Knights.

Dillon notched 207 kills, 98 blocks, and 76 digs last season en route to being selected to the All-AAC First Team.

She is the leading blocker among the returning players this season and will attempt to lead the blockers in their first season without two of the top blockers in program history.

“I think that’s something I’m excited for, to step up a little bit more this season and continue to improve my block,” Dillon said.


Who We’ll Miss

Nerissa Moravec — Middle Blocker

In the words of Todd Dagenais, “Nerissa wasn’t a great blocker. She was an elite blocker.”

“I mean elite blocker”

Last season, Moravec led the team in blocks (164) and notched 141 kills en route to her selection to the All-AAC Second Team.

She finished her UCF career with the second-most career block assists (508) in program history, coming in only behind Watson. She also is second all-time in blocks per set (1.27) and third all-time in total blocks (548).

She is now teaching elementary school in Orlando.

Anne-Marie Watson — Right Side

From one of the greatest blockers in program history to another, the right-side hitter from Hagerty High School left her mark on the program’s record books.

Last season, she had the most kills on the team by someone not named McKenna Melville (306) and the second-most blocks on the team (130). She was selected alongside Melville, Dillon, and Olson to the All-AAC First Team.

She ended her UCF career with the most career block assists in program history (565), second in total blocks (590), eighth in blocks per set (1.07) and ninth in kills (1,228).

She unseats Delaina Sarden to become the only player on both the Top 10 all-time kill list and total block list.

She will be interning with the College Football Playoff this season.

To learn more about Watson’s journey to UCF and the impact she had within the program, check out her Know Your Knight article from last year.


Who’s New That’s Good

#9 Abby Hansen — Middle Blocker

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Hansen comes to the east coast after spending three seasons with Oregon.

Last season, she led the Ducks and was 4th in the Pac-12 with 115 blocks.

Hansen said she chose to come to UCF for three reasons: the Healthcare Administration masters program, the “easy” communication between players and coaches, and how goal-driven the team is.

“I knew that Abby was going to be physical, coming from the Pac-12,” Dagenais said. “She just runs the middle like very few people do.”

#7 Kari Zumach — Right Side

Zumach joins fellow Minnesota natives McKenna Melville and Dresden Pass in Orlando after spending three seasons with Indiana.

Last season, she notched 107 kills, 41 blocks, and 40 digs with the Hoosiers.

Dagenais praised Zumach’s blocking and ability to hit from the back row during his interview on the Black and Gold Banneret podcast.


Roster Breakdown

  • 8 Grad Students or Seniors
  • 3 Freshmen
  • 4 Floridians (3 Central Floridians)
  • 1 International Player (Greece)

2022 UCF Volleyball Roster

No. Name Pos Year Hometown 2021 School 2021 Stats
No. Name Pos Year Hometown 2021 School 2021 Stats
1 Abby Schomars Setter Fr. Omaha, Neb. Skutt Catholic HS 1,231 Assists, 183 Digs, 62 Kills, 35 Blocks
2 Chloe Scheer Libero/ Defensive Specialist Jr. Murrieta, Cal. UCF 370 Digs, 95 Assists, 40 Aces
3 Amber Olson Setter Grad Cary, Ill. UCF 1,243 Assists, 273 Digs, 55 Kills
5 Emma Trulock Defensive Specialist Fr. Ocala, FL Forest HS 471 Kills, 268 Digs, 52 Blocks
6 Dresden Pass Defensive Specialist/ Setter Sr. Chaska, Minn. UCF 190 Digs, 19 Aces, 3 Kills
7 Kari Zumch Right Side Grad Buffalo, Minn. Indiana 107 Kills, 41 Blocks, 40 Digs
8 Stella Gkiourda Outside Hitter Jr. Moschato, Greece UCF Played 1 set
9 Abby Hansen Middle Blocker Grad Phoenix, AR Oregon 140 Kills, 115 Blocks, 26 Digs
11 Katelyn Grimes Libero/ Defensive Specialist So. Lebanon, OH UCF 214 Digs, 34 Aces
12 Heidi Bonde Outside Hitter So. Minooka, Ill. UCF 79 Kills, 20 Digs, 10 Blocks
14 Emily Lawrence Setter Jr. Oviedo, FL UCF 126 Assists, 43 Digs, 5 Aces
15 Claudia Dillon Middle Blocker Sr. Evergreen, OH UCF 207 Kills, 98 Blocks, 76 Digs, 33 Aces
18 Renee Ralls Setter Fr. Orlando, FL Lake Highland Prep 206 Assists, 130 Digs, 18 Kills
19 Makenzie Chambers Right-Side Hitter Sr. Dallas, TX UCF 62 Kills, 18 Blocks, 10 Digs
20 McKenna Melville Outside Hitter Grad Eagan, Minn. UCF 617 Kills, 383 Digs, 84 Blocks, 34 Aces
26 Emily Wilson Outisde Hitter So. Estero, FL San Diego 65 Kills, 32 Digs, 12 Blocks
47 Amari Williams Middle Blocker Grad Suwanee. GA UCF Did not play due to injury

Schedule Breakdown

UCF opens the season a week late due to a quirk in the NCAA’s volleyball scheduling rules. When they start the season, their opponents will have already played one weekend.

2022 UCF Volleyball Schedule

Date Day H/A Time Opponent Conf - Preseason Rank Coaches Poll 2021 RPI UCF's Results LY Last Season
Date Day H/A Time Opponent Conf - Preseason Rank Coaches Poll 2021 RPI UCF's Results LY Last Season
Sep 2 Friday Home 7:00 PM Syracuse ACC - Last - 17-13 42 - 10th ACC
Sep 3 Saturday Home 7:00 PM Kansas State Big 12 - 6th - 15-13 54 - 7th Big 12, L NCAA 1st Round (Florida St.)
Sep 9 Friday Home 4:30 PM UNC Wilmington CAA - 9th - 4-23 311 - 8th CAA, DNQ CAA Tournament
Sep 10 Saturday Home 7:00 PM Miami (FL) ACC - 4th RV 25-3 14 Won 3-2 3rd ACC, L NCAA 2nd Round (Florida)
Sep 11 Sunday Home 5:00 PM UIC MVC - 3rd - 20-12 120 - 4th Horizon League, Won HL Tournament, L NCAA 1st Round (1 Louisville)
Sep 15 Thursday Neutral 5:00 PM Omaha Summit - 3rd - 20-10 73 - 1st Summit League, Lost Summit League Final (S. Dakota), Missed NCAA
Sep 16 Friday Away 7:30 PM Kansas Big 12 - 4th 23 18-12 31 - 5th Big 12, L NCAA Sweet 16 (3 Pittsburgh)
Sep 17 Saturday Neutral 1:00 PM Lipscomb ASUN - 4th - 14-13 165 - 2nd ASUN West, L ASUN Quarterfinal (UNF)
Sep 23 Friday Away 7:00 PM Memphis AAC - 8th - 13-19 204 Won 3-0 8th AAC
Sep 25 Sunday Away 2:00 PM SMU AAC - 5th - 18-12 70 Won 3-0 4th AAC
Sep 30 Friday Home 7:00 PM Wichita State AAC - 4th - 19-10 71 Won 3-0 5th AAC
Oct 2 Sunday Home 1:00 PM Tulsa AAC - 6th - 14-16 148 Won 3-0 7th AAC
Oct 7 Friday Away 7:00 PM Houston AAC - 2nd - 25-7 58 Won 3-2 2nd AAC, Missed NCAA Tournament
Oct 9 Sunday Away 2:00 PM Tulane AAC - 7th - 18-14 136 Won 3-0 6th AAC
Oct 14 Friday Home 7:00 PM Temple AAC - 11th - 7-24 245 Won 3-0 10th AAC
Oct 16 Sunday Home 12:00 PM East Carolina AAC - 9th - 9-20 236 Won 3-0 9th AAC
Oct 19 Wednesday Home 7:00 PM USF AAC - 10th - 7-24 248 Won 3-0 Last AAC
Oct 21 Friday Away 6:00 PM Cincinnati AAC - 3rd - 19-9 53 Won 3-2 3rd AAC, Missed NCAA Tournament
Oct 28 Friday Away 8:00 PM Tulsa AAC - 6th - 14-16 148 Won 3-1 7th AAC
Oct 30 Sunday Away 2:00 PM Wichita State AAC - 4th - 19-10 71 Won 3-2 5th AAC
Nov 4 Friday Home 7:00 PM SMU AAC - 5th - 18-12 70 Won 3-0 4th AAC
Nov 6 Sunday Home 1:00 PM Memphis AAC - 8th - 13-19 204 Won 3-0 8th AAC
Nov 9 Wednesday Away 7:00 PM USF AAC - 10th - 7-24 248 Won 3-0 Last AAC
Nov 13 Sunday Home 1:00 PM Cincinnati AAC - 3rd - 19-9 53 Won 3-0 3rd AAC, Missed NCAA Tournament
Nov 18 Friday Away 6:00 PM East Carolina AAC - 9th - 9-20 236 Won 3-0 9th AAC
Nov 20 Sunday Away 1:00 PM Temple AAC - 11th - 7-24 245 Won 3-0 10th AAC
Nov 23 Wednesday Home 7:00 PM Tulane AAC - 7th - 18-14 136 Won 3-1 6th AAC
Nov 25 Friday Home 5:00 PM Houston AAC - 2nd - 25-7 58 Lost 3-2 2nd AAC, Missed NCAA Tournament

Once again, there is no AAC Volleyball Tournament, so the regular season winner gets the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.


The Last Time...

UCF won five straight conference titles: 1993-1997.

Laura Smith’s group was led by a slew of incredible hitters, including Renata Menchikova, who remains UCF’s all-time leader in kills, at least for the moment.

Interestingly, UCF’s first conference title in this run did not earn them an NCAA bid, as the TAAC did not have an automatic bid at the time. That changed in 1994.


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